Nurse Ratched

I’ve been privately calling the Care Director at my mom’s place Nurse Ratched since one of the residents told me the place reminds her of the movie “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.” It’s not an entirely appropriate moniker – for one thing, she’s not even a nurse – but being snarky about her inside my head helps diffuse my frustration with her. Sometimes.

This morning while we were waiting for my mom to see the doctor on his monthly visit to the facility, I overheard a conversation between Nurse Ratched and another resident’s son. He was asking to speak with the doctor for a few minutes privately before bringing in his mother because he didn’t want to bring up his concerns about his mother’s increasing dementia symptoms in front of her. Nurse Ratched seemed to be objecting to this, though I don’t know why she would. The son brought up an incident recently where his mother hadn’t recognized her favorite jacket, citing this as an example of a new type of confusion different from the short term memory issues he was used to her having.

“Well, you should have heard her the other day after you left!” Nurse Ratched said, in a tone best described as callous. “She was demanding to know who that nasty man was who was bossing her around.”

The son, sounding utterly deflated, asked quietly “She didn’t know who I was?”

Still in the same flippant voice, Nurse Ratched answered “No, she didn’t. She just kept complaining about how nasty you were, making her do things she didn’t want to do.” I thought I heard something almost gleeful in that tone, as if she was spitefully enjoying taking him down a peg.

I don’t know the background behind this exchange or any of the interpersonal dynamics in play with these people, but it made me flinch to hear the news that sometimes this mother does not recognize her own son delivered in such a cold-hearted manner. I dread the day when my mother no longer knows me, as I’m sure all family members of dementia patients dread that day. Is a little tact and compassion from the people we pay to care for our dementia patients really too much to ask?

It was already clear to me that this care director lacked knowledge about dementia – as evidenced by watching her shout at the poor old man who couldn’t remember how to swallow, as if he was just being stubborn and yelling “Swallow! Swallow!” in his ear would do the trick, and other similar incidents. Now I see that she’s lacking in compassion as well. I really want to get my mom away from Nurse Ratched and her poisonous attitude before she takes another cognitive decline.

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4 thoughts on “Nurse Ratched

  1. I cannot emphasise strongly enough just how much you need to report Nurse Ratched to the owners of the care home and / or the local safeguarding or protective services (not sure what it’s called over your side of the pond) as soon as possible.

    Her tone, approach and overall attitude towards those in her care and their relatives in the unenviable position of having to watch from the sidelines is utterly appalling and amounts to nothing other than downright abuse.

    I dread to think what she’s like towards residents behind closed doors if she’s that bad directly to and in front of others including visitors and relatives.

    She cannot be allowed to carry on like this but will do unless and until someone does something to end it. What an absolute bitch. 😦

    • Thank you for validating what I was thinking myself. (I sometimes wonder if I’m overreacting.) I will try to contact the owner tomorrow. In the six months my mom has lived at this facility, no one has yet given me any way to contact the owner other than telling me that he is in his office a couple times a week. He’s never been in that office when I’ve been there, so I will have to insist that they give me a phone number or email address for him.

  2. In that case, I’m tempted to think you’d be better just contacting the local social services / protective services or safeguarding team directly (not sure what the name for it is over your way)

    If the home is a bit shy in giving out details of who to contact should residents, relatives or anyone else want to raise concerns, my feeling is that they’d probably rather you didn’t. Plus, if they allow a God-awful woman like Nurse Ratched to run the show and go unchecked for so long like that, chances are they’re not exactly on the ball when it comes to making sure everyone is well looked after.

    If you look up the name of the home online or if it has one, browse the website / details of whoever governs and inspects care facilities in the area, there should be details of who to contact with any concerns you have.

    You’re not overreacting by any stretch. People like this shouldn’t be allowed to work in a health care facility AT ALL let alone run one! If there’s anything I can do to help, give me a shout.

  3. I agree! This individual needs to be reported. She doesn’t have a caring bone in her body and needs to work somewhere else. She is rude and disrespectful. She could be burned out from her job, and she needs to move on either way.

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